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Libya loses anticybersquatting lawsuit

September 7, 2012anticybersquatting, Cybersquatting, Domaining, Domainnamewire, lawsuits, libya embassy, Policy & LawComments Off on Libya loses anticybersquatting lawsuit

Libya and its embassy lose a domain name lawsuit that started well before Gaddafi’s overthrow.

A federal district court yesterday handed down a ruling in a very interesting cybersquatting case, and much of the interest lies in who the plaintiff was: Libya.

Back in 2006 The Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and the Embassy of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya filed suit against Ahmad Miski for cybersquatting. (After the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi’s government, the plaintiffs names were changed to Libya and Embassy of Libya.)

The Libyan embassy was using the domain name LibyanBureau.com at the time, but now uses LibyaUSAEmbassy.com.

Defendant Ahmad Miski is an expeditor, similar to the people who help you get your passports quickly. Some of his work was expediting documents with the Embassy of Libya.

Miski registered the domains embassyoflibya.org, libyaembassy.com, libyaembassy.org, and libyanembassy.com and forwarded these to his web site, where he solicited clients for his expeditor services.

Libya alleged Miski was cybersquatting and that it had common law rights to the terms “Embassy of Libya” and “Libyan Embassy”.

The judge ruled that these marks were merely descriptive and that Miski was not guilty of cybersquatting.

Additionally, the judge noted that it was difficult for the embassy to prove continuous use of its supposed marks in the United States. In 1986 president Ronald Reagan issued executive orders prohibiting commercial trade and other transactions with Libya and its government and “blocked” Libyan government property located in the United States.

This case is interesting from the perspective of the “descriptive” ruling, but I also find it fascinating given the geopolitical circumstances.

Miski was represented by Eric Menhart of Lexero Law. You can read the court’s full decision here (pdf).


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ConnectedWorld.com UDRP challenged in court

May 10, 2012anticybersquatting, Domaining, Domainnamewire, Policy & Law, udrpComments Off on ConnectedWorld.com UDRP challenged in court

Case filed in Arizona to halt transfer of domain name.

A Texas man has filed a suit for declaratory and injunctive relief to halt the transfer of ConnectedWorld.com, a domain name he lost in a recent UDRP decision.

In the suit (pdf), Jeffrey Smith claims he has been working on a social network for eldercare since 2008. When the domain name ConnectedWorld.com came up for auction last year, he paid $7,100 to acquire the domain name.

Earlier this year, Specialty Publishing Company filed a UDRP for the domain name. Specialty Publishing Company owns Connected World Magazine and runs a conference by the same name. The company won the UDRP case.

In his suit, Smith admits that he was aware of Connected World since he participated in one of its conferences and his employer advertised in the magazine. Yet he claims his purchase of the domain name was unrelated to this and was just for his eldercare business idea.

But Smith is going to face an uphill battle given the allegations made in the UDRP case against him.

According to the UDRP decision, the day after Smith acquired the domain name he wrote to Specialty Publishing Company stating “By the way – I had the opportunity to pick up the domain name [connectedworld.com] so I did. I didn’t have an agenda just saw it available and picked it up before someone else did.” That seems to fly in the face of his assertion that it was for his eldercare social network.

Further communications between the parties are even more damning. As written in the decision:

Respondent’s subsequent e-mails with the Complainant further support the inference that Respondent purchased and registered the domain name in bad faith. In several follow-up e-mails, Respondent informed Complainant that Respondent had been contacted by several people since Respondent bought the domain name (June 22, 2011 e-mail), that Respondent has sold domain names in the past (February 21, 2012 e-mail), that Respondent received a quarter of a million dollars for the sale of memorial.com (February 21, 2012), and that “Almost everything is for sale, we are just negotiating a price” (February 21, 2012).

If Smith is in the wrong, he could be opening himself up to paying a bigger penalty than just losing the domain name.

(As a side note, it does appear that Smith sold Memorial.com to Kevin Ham’s Vertical Axis in 2006. I don’t recall seeing this sale reported. Although I wouldn’t consider the assertion in the UDRP that he sold it for $250,000 proof of the sales price, it seems reasonable.)


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Kohler Files Cybersquatting Lawsuit Against Repeat Offenders

August 15, 2011anticybersquatting, Domaining, Domainnamewire, kohler, Policy & LawComments Off on Kohler Files Cybersquatting Lawsuit Against Repeat Offenders

After paying off cybersquatters, Kohler says it got burned.

Plumbing fixtures giant Kohler has filed an anticybersquatting lawsuit against a company that it had already paid to stop registering its trademarks as domain names.

The federal district suit was filed against DomainJet, Inc, Jack Sun, and one or more of the company’s employees.

According to Kohler, it approached the defendants after it noticed they registered Kohlerco.in. The defendants demanded $1,000 to transfer the domain name. Kohler offered $500 for the domain if the defendants would not register any Kohler trademarks in the future.

The defendants apparently agreed and Kohler paid the money.

But shortly thereafter the defendants allegedly registered four more infringing domain names and demanded $1,000 to transfer the new domain names.

That’s what prompted Kohler to file the suit. Honestly, I can’t blame them.

Now Kohler is asking for $100,000 per infringing domain name, or $500,000 total.


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Sylvan Learning Sues Franchisee Gripe Site

March 29, 2011anticybersquatting, Domaining, Domainnamewire, Policy & LawComments Off on Sylvan Learning Sues Franchisee Gripe Site

Company says former franchisee created site to defame it.

Tutoring and SAT test prep franchisor Sylvan Learning has sued the domain name SylvanFranchiseIssues.com for violating the anti-cybersquatting act.

The company alleges (pdf) the site was set up by a former franchisee in which it is involved in litigation.

Finding the alleged owner of the site was no small feat. The suit details Sylvan Learning’s attempts to track down the owner, starting with an inquiry to eNom’s whois privacy service. That lead the company to an address in London. A contact there said he used to offer a service where people could use his address when registering domain names. The trail then moved to India and then to a former franchisee in Ohio.

The site’s owner allegedly did more that just create the site to peeve Sylvan. He allegedly forwarded web traffic to the site from Sylvan’s corporate offices to competitor Huntington Learning Centers. He also allegedly bought Google Adwords for his site when someone searched for “Sylvan Franchises”.

Once tracked down, the site’s owner claimed that Sylvan had violated SylvanFranchiseIssues.com’s (SFI) terms of services by visiting the site:

the Terms of Use “prohibit employees, related parties or independent contractors of Sylvan Learning Inc., or any of its affiliates or related parties from accessing the SFI website.”

Clever.

If you visit the domain name right now it gives an error that the site is currently in maintenance mode.


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After Losing UDRP, Complainant Sues to Get FirstQuote.com

December 14, 2010anticybersquatting, Domaining, Domainnamewire, lawsuits, Policy & LawComments Off on After Losing UDRP, Complainant Sues to Get FirstQuote.com

Earlier this year a workers compensation insurance company that has a trademark for 1stQuote lost a UDRP for the domain name FirstQuote.com. On the balance, the panel found that the domain name owner registered it due to the generic nature of the domain name.

Now the complainant is taking the matter to the courts, filing an in rem case (pdf) against the domain name FirstQuote.com.

Interestingly, the UDRP was filed by Aspen Holdings, Inc, while the lawsuit was filed by MARKEL ASPEN, INC. d/b/a FIRSTCOMP INSURANCE.

The plaintiff lays out a similar case to what was argued in the UDRP. Except that it omits the fact that it lost an arbitration matter for the domain name.

Clearly the registrant of the domain name FirstQuote.com is reachable given that he responded to the UDRP. It seems that filing this in rem action against the domain name could be a way to slip a lawsuit through and get control of the domain name. It also avoids jurisdiction issues with the registrant being in Hong Kong.

The whois record was in a whois privacy setting when the case was filed, which means the domain name owner might not receive notice of the dispute. (It had a public whois record for a while after the UDRP, and is public again.)

It will be interesting to see how this one plays out.


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AntiCybersquatting Lawsuit Filed Against ChicagoRestaurant.com

August 10, 2010anticybersquatting, Domaining, Domainnamewire, lawsuit, Policy & LawComments Off on AntiCybersquatting Lawsuit Filed Against ChicagoRestaurant.com

Shunned by UDRP, former domain owner takes his case to court.

After losing a UDRP case for the domain name ChicagoRestaurant.com, Chicago Restaurant & Entertainment Guide, Inc., has filed an in rem lawsuit against the domain name alleging cybersquatting.

Before you yell “that’s a generic!”, you should know that this domain name was allegedly stolen. The plaintiff had registered the domain and kept the whois email in the name of a technology service provider. That service provider went out of business and let its domain name expire. Then it appears someone registered the domain of the service provider, set up an email address that was the same as listed in whois, and transferred the domain name.

The lawsuit is available here (pdf). (Note to the plaintiff’s lawyers: Go Daddy isn’t the registry for .com as noted in the suit.)

Until it’s resolved, you’ll find the owner at DiningChicago.com.


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Yahoo Settles Lawsuit and Gets Flicker.com Domain Name

June 14, 2010anticybersquatting, Domaining, Domainnamewire, Policy & Law, yahooComments Off on Yahoo Settles Lawsuit and Gets Flicker.com Domain Name

Yahoo now has Flicker.com for Flickr.com web site.

As Michael Berkens pointed out today, Yahoo now owns the domain name Flicker.com.

But this wasn’t your typical domain name sale. It was actually the culmination of year long anti-cybersquatting lawsuit brought against the Flicker.com owner AshantiPLC, which is owned in part by domain investor Sahar Sarid.

Yahoo’s lawsuit against the Ashanti was filed in July 2009. Yahoo alleged that the defendants purchased the domain name for $55,000 on eBay in July 2006. The suit chronicles what the defendants did with the name after they bought it, including showing traffic stats and citing numerous rejected offers. (They even turned down a $700,000 offer.) It also states that the defendants placed ads to camera companies on the domain name. Yahoo alleged that the defendants responded to twitter inquiries about Flicker.com being down.

You can read Yahoo’s original lawsuit here, and the defendant’s response here.

The parties entered mediation and settled the case, with Yahoo dismissing it last week. Details of the settlement were not disclosed.


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